Friday, December 30, 2005

Peter Petrisko, lately of Media Petros, brought me to Information Overload at CounterCulture Café last Monday, where I read aloud from Couplehood.

Peter ran Gallery X in the early 1990s. My experiences there inspired me to begin performing comedy. Gallery X combined 'outsider' art, industrial music, and performance art. Some of the performance art at Gallery X was funny and would have been called 'alternative comedy' in NYC... people like Jeff Falk, or Petrisko and Miskowski's 'Coalition for the Bitter Bean'.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Bruce McNall's book, Fun While It Lasted, describes dealing with Robert Hecht.

After bidding vigorously at a Münzen und Medaillen auction in Bern, McNall is approached by a "thin, aristocratic American" and invited up to Hecht's hotel room.

All around the room were men — Turks, Italians, Greeks — talking and smoking and haggling... I recognized a few of the men from the crowd at the auction, where they had obviously been studying the buyers and the market prices. These were the fellows who pulled you aside during a break, reached into their pockets and brought out a few glittery prizes for you to buy at a special price. Some of them were tough guys...

McNall also says the antiquities sold by NFA "would be supplied mainly by Bob Hecht. In fact, I hardly ever acquired pieces from anyone else. Our arrangement allowed me to bring in pieces for display, sell them, and then split the proceeds with him...." McNall would loan pieces to the Getty Museum, then "bring potential customers in to view it. Think about how that affected someone new to the world of ancient art. I was showing them pieces on display in a world-renowned museum, which they could then by for themselves."

Sunday, December 18, 2005

New York Sale catalog online

The New York Sale catalog is online at

The New York Sale is the annual coin auction run by three firms: Baldwin's, M&M (Washington DC) and Dimitry Markov.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Bhutan gets new antiquities law

I had to look up some of the terms; "dzongs" are Buddhist fortresses. "lhakhangs" are Buddhist temples.

"Chapter two of the Act asserts that all Kusung Thukten and properties of the dzongs and lhakhangs, be it new or old, will be listed and registered jointly by the representatives of the Zhung Dratshang...."

"Except for valuable properties, tensum, ritual objects and old handicrafts can be sold and taken abroad with a written permit and the object sealed by the department of culture."

"The chief of the cultural properties division of department of culture ... said ... the purpose was to retain the antique pieces within the country. 'People have the misconception that this is harassment, but it is not so'"

Monday, December 12, 2005

Giant coins by Ted Stanke

Ted Stanke makes large sculptures depicting coins and the dollar. Some of them are on display in Brooklyn.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

"Fair Use" and photocopying journal articles

There has been a lot of discussion of US copyright law and "Fair Use" on Moneta-L this weekend.

It seems to be a popular belief that Xeroxing complete articles from magazines and journals is a "Fair Use". This isn't so; each article is a complete work.

The Fair Use doctrine isn't a clear law with numbers and percentages that you can stay under and be safe. A good article on Fair Use is "The Fair Use Doctrine Part II" by Lloyd L. Rich.

Rich gives several examples:

  • Publishing 300 words (1%) from Gerald Ford's memoir was NOT fair use.
  • Putting unpublished Scientology materials (religious) online WAS fair use.
  • Copying entire scientific articles from journals was NOT fair use.

The case that seems most related to my arguments on Moneta-L is AMERICAN GEOPHYSICAL UNION v. TEXACO.

I'll summarize.

  • Texaco's library maintains three subscriptions to "The Journal of Catalysis"
  • Monthly issues of "Catalysis" run ~200 pages and have 20-25 articles
  • Dr. Donald H. Chickering photocopied eight articles from the journal.
  • Chickering believed data from these articles would facilitate his research.
  • Chickering's copying was NOT FAIR USE.

In this case it was worthwhile for the journal publisher to sue because Texaco had 400 other scientists doing the same thing and there was an agreement that the finding for Chickering would apply to all of them.

Copyright Law is not criminal law. It isn't a sub-section of the "theft" law. It is a complex set of rules and judicial precident designed to determine who should win a lawsuit and the damages to award. Copyright law was never designed to make sense for an individual Xeroxing a few articles as background for another article.

Most writers want their works read and cited. There is nothing unethical about copying these works for research. We can be pretty sure that publishing in technical journals that pay in free-copies-of-the-journal is a good sign the author will not feel cheated if his work is photocopied. Letting a work fall out-of-print is another way authors show us that they are not interested in squeezing every last cent out of a work.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Gemini II auction catalog online

Harlan Berk and Freeman & Sear are holding a live auction January 10th. The catalog is online.

200 lots of Greek, 328 lots of Roman, plus Byzantine, medieval, Islamic. All high quality stuff. Includes one of five known Poros dekadrachms minted under Alexander the Great and presented to troops on his Indian campaign.

Web site is terrible. The pictures aren't clickable. The main page presents tiny thumbnails of great coins like the dekadrachm that aren't links!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Robert Hecht

Suzan Mazur is writing an excellent series on Robert Hecht for the New Zealand web site "Scoop"

Bob Hecht, The Younger

Sotheby's & The Signed Euphronios

The Provenance Of Bob Hecht

Euphronios Ancient Art In Court

Hecht must have been a top-level ancient coin dealer. A article by Vernon Silver quotes a Boston MFA spokewoman saying the museum has "1,317 items from Hecht", and "excluding coin collections... 116" implying Hecht sold the museum 1201 coins!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

I am thinking of starting a blog

I am thinking of starting a blog. What shall it be about?